The idea of the mutant zombie creatures is actually interesting for this kind of film. The toxic waste changes the person's blood into a green/yellowish substance and swells. It swells to degree that their palms split. Through these splits the "mutant zombies" suck blood from victims like a leach. The make-up job on these ghouls is actually quit good and they have a nice terrifying appearance in dark corridors.
Not only are the ghouls impressive, but director John Cardos (Kingdom of the Spiders) is also able to make many great scenes of suspense. There are two terrific scenes with "zombies" attacking a women and a kid in a school bathroom and another when "zombies" surround a car and start burning through the glass to get to the person inside. I've been a horror film fan for years and nothing really makes me squirm, but there a a few number of scenes here that actually got me on the edge of my seat. He also moves the film along at nice pace and it builds and builds until the suspense filled climax. Nice job Cardos!
The acting here also brings this film up a couple of notches. Usually genre films like this have poor acting and actors that usually cause unintentional laughter. The cast here is very good lead by seasoned veterans Wings Hauser (Vice Squad) and Bo Hopkins. The supporting cast is also good and they all play the film seriously. There is a scene towards the end of the film where a female lead starts to lose emotional control and Hauser has to comfort her while being terrified himself. I really felt they were scared out-of-there minds. Thumbs up on the acting which is rare for this type of film.
The only really cheese thing is the story, which I know the story sounds like direct-to-video material. No doubt today it would be, but Mutant was made back in the early 80's and that was a great era because movies like mutant got a theatrical release and because of this, they a high-quality look them that director-to-video fodder sorely lack.
For horror fans looking for a nice mostly forgotten 80's horror film that actually has quality, then give Mutant a shot. It's got a great cast, good acting, nice effects, and some truly suspenseful moments. I was totally surprised by Mutant and liked it very much.
For some reason Mutant as been released in many different incarnations on DVD (5 that I know of). I originally bought the Diamond Entertainment version (It portrays the same cover art as the original Vestron video release) but its picture quality was no better than my VHS. By far the best edition available on DVD is the Elite Entertainment version (stay clear of the Westlake version which has the horrible cover art pictured here on facebook). The picture is crystal clear (you can actually see what's happening in the dark scenes!) and in anamorphic widescreen. A beautiful release of a rare film. If you want to own this film, you owe it to yourself to get the Elite Version!